Yes, I am coming back to the possibility that the apocalypse may be just over the horizon. I do not believe that, at least in human terms. In Yahweh terms, being just over the horizon might mean another eon or so. Truthfully, I do not believe that will be the case either, but parameters need to be set for any attempt at logical discourse.
This piece was inspired by my choir director. He asked me to say a few words of encouragement during a choir Zoom session. He also asked me to share a favorite verse that might be germane to our current situation.
When someone says favorite verse to me, two passages come to mind immediately, John 3:16 and Psalm 23. To be completely honest, Psalm 23 does not come to mind in an entirely theological way. It was a favorite passage even when I was an in-your-face skeptic, unrepentant sinner, and a street cop. What a combination!
If you do not know why it was my favorite, you’ve led a sheltered life. People like me loved to paraphrase verse 4. We walked through the valley of the shadow of death on a semi-regular basis, and we could not be afraid. At least, we could not be fearful at the moment. We loved to say the reason we weren’t scared was that we were the meanest son of a gun in the valley.
Years later, when I quit fighting God, I realized that was just my way of remembering Him and His presence without admitting it. Even in the depths of my depravity, I knew He was there and depended on Him. I just couldn’t acknowledge Him.
I think he put up with me because of the faith of the little boy baptized in frigid water when he was ten. The faith of that little boy survived as a kernel of belief that never left me. I just covered it up with anger and distrust. Thankfully, I finally found that little boy again almost forty years after that baptism, but inner child stories are for another time.
My fondness for the 23rd Psalm wanted me to use it in my remarks to the choir. I thought I understood it, and I thought I knew how to use it during the meeting. Of course, I went looking for information that would contradict how I meant to use it, if any existed. Bible passages are highly debated at times, and I was sure there were differing views on this one.
I was right about the differing views. Happily, the one that caught my attention and seems to play well into the world today was by a Rabbi, who made a lot of sense. Possibly he made sense because of my feelings about one part of God’s plan and why the end has not yet come.
The Rabbi’s analysis differed from others because it focused on the transition or maturation of the person praying. He focused on one word David used in writing the Psalm. He opined translators and others were substituting the meaning of another word because they did not completely understand the term used. I will not attempt to explain his reasoning here, as I am far from a Hebrew scholar or Rabbi.[i]
The bottom line is this. Psalm 23 lays out God’s plan for us if we’ll listen and cooperate. He will take us from a sheep, totally dependent on the shepherd to a level of maturity and confidence that is necessary for our spiritual growth and understanding of our place in the world.
Today, we are in the valley. God has us here for a reason, and we are supposed to learn something. Whether we learn it or not will determine whether we are mature enough to sit at the table as a strong Christian, or whether we will still be sheep. We can never be equal to God, but we can come closer to Him by becoming mature and firm believers instead of sheep who must be tended 24/7.
[i] If you like, you can read his analysis by clicking here; https://theisraelbible.com/psalm-235-since-when-do-sheep-sit-at-a-table/
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